You don't see the mayor of New York take the stand in a trial every day, but today is one of those days. As part of the ongoing criminal case against political consultant John Haggerty the prosecution today called hizzoner to the stand and he so has, with a chorus of twitterers present. This isn't the first time a sitting mayor has taken the stand, but it may be the first time one has done so as the victim of a crime. And if lawyers were hoping for a testy Bloomberg, they seem to be getting their wish.
For those who haven't been following along, here's the short version of the case: Prosecutors say that Haggerty "falsely promised Mr. Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign that he would work with the Independence Party to provide an Election Day ballot-security operation. Based on Mr. Haggerty’s representations about how much the operation would cost, prosecutors said, Mr. Bloomberg contributed $1.1 million, which was supposed to be used on the project, to the Independence Party. Instead of providing ballot security, prosecutors say, Mr. Haggerty spent most of the money to buy his house in Queens." Bloomberg has been actively involved in his side of the case, paying the legal fees for a pair of City Hall insiders testifying in the case ("Why would I not do it?" he responded when asked about the arrangement).
Bloomberg took the stand today around 10 a.m. in a dark suit, white shirt and a red tie and early reports describe him as appearing "subdued, sad and slightly irritated." Topics touched on during the initial questioning include his political affiliation before running for mayor as a Republican (he was a Democrat "all my previous life"), what he knows about ballot security (it is "not something I'm familiar with."), his thoughts on contracts (he prefers to look people "in the eye") and who is authorized to act on his behalf when he is out of town (Patti Harris). The questioning is ongoing (they just reportedly got aggressive on term limits) so we'll come back to revisit the story in a bit. Meanwhile you can follow along on Twitter with #haggerty.
Update: Though initially Bloomberg was like a "lizard in sun under cross" examination he reportedly got a litte more emotional after the strain of more than 90 minutes of being grilled. So far the defense's questioning has included everything from how much Bloomberg "personally" relied on information from Haggerty ("I relied on the details that he gave to my staff."), how much hizzoner pays attention to his finances (he can forget signing $100k checks and has no idea how much he is paying for everybody's legal bills in the case), how forceful he was in working to get term limits overturned and what regular New Yorkers thought of him changing the rules ("Some people didn't like it, but they had the freedom to express" their feelings "on Election Day," he said before acknowledging that there "was certainly a lot of press about some people who did not like it, yes."), and why this case came forward (blame the DA). Finally came the kitchen sink segment of the more than two hours of questioning that included all sorts of hizzoner's scandals including CityTime, Stephen Goldsmith and a long debate over Bloomberg's book Bloomberg on Bloomberg which the defense tried to have introduced into evidence as proof that Bloomberg lies.